Saturday, November 14, 2015


Just like the Future Ready Summit, G's time with us was engaging and inspirational. I learned several new tricks and tools, but more importantly, how technology can positively impact and engage learners of all ages.

A motif that I've noticed in the short time that I've been engaged in deeper thinking about technology and education is storytelling. G told a compelling story about his career change and creation of a new and more fulfilling career path. At the summit, stories were shared about failure, redemption, social justice, and more. I see this as a very foundational human experience and it is interesting that technology and storytelling can be so intertwined.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

An Old Man Learns Some New Tricks

I've always wanted to learn to make videos with iMovie. Here's my first one: Mount St. Helens Hike July 1, 2015

Not bad, eh? While I don't see a future career in film-making ahead of me, I do think there are some very practical applications to my work as a district special education leader. Thanks, Todd!

One of the most potent features of this course has been the natural high level of engagement that it elicits. I know not all adults are as enamored with technology. I have a few administrators I supervise that avoid tech at all costs. That puzzles (and sometimes frustrates) me. It's becoming a natural part of our personal and professional lives. It's not something we can escape and the expectation is that we learn it, know it, and model it.

We discussed the poster at right today. I have mixed feelings about the "right" and "wrong" of it unless we're talking about "ends" and "means". In the same way that it doesn't make sense for the making of a hoe to be an end in itself, but rather a tool to aid in the growing of food, I agree with premise that technology is a tool for a higher purpose.

The other big takeaway for me today is the design and utility of websites and a web presence. I attended a meeting this week where a program presented its new site to be launched next month. It was designed on School Wires rather than Red Dot and it was beautiful and effective. I have hopes of redesigning several of our web pages on the PPS Special Ed site.

Time to draft my plan for my Final Project!
"Get on with it!"

Sugata Mitra's talk on learning and our schools was thought-provoking. He is but another voice calling for the transformation of our obsolete system. I wonder when and where the tipping point will come. When will parents and, more importantly, students refuse to support and engage in the current format of learning? We're still in the midst of "amendments" and "updates" and "improvements" as evidenced by the Common Core, SBAC, and factory model curricula.

Mitra convinces his audience of the ability and capacity of children to learn without teachers and money. It seems that we've got to find a way to get internet accessibility to our most underserved globally if his dream is to be realized. I worry that we may prioritize technology over access to food, shelter, and healthcare or that our poorest will be left behind. Perhaps Mitra might argue that creating a "school in the cloud" will enrich the lives of all and assist in fighting poverty and starvation. I'd like to hear more about that.

I'd also like to hear more about how his idea will strengthen historically marginalized people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

He presented strong evidence for his premise and gives us all something to seriously ponder.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Evolving Educational Landscape - A Review and Reflection

 "Out with the old and in with the new." I think these two pictures represent the juxtaposition of the modern debates around education and technology. We're in the midst of a transformation; I would argue an evolution although it's hard to believe in the permanence of something man made.
As a teacher starting his career in the early '90s, I taught Deaf and Hard of Hearing children who needed technical equipment to hear. I needed to know how to troubleshoot and check hearing aids and FM systems on a daily basis. It was just a natural part of my job and taking care of my students.
Today, cochlear implants are the latest and greatest in sophisticated hearing equipment. The world of technology has exploded and the first chapter of "Digital Leadership" by Eric Sheninger is a "call to arms" of sorts.

I found myself cheering and jeering at different points through the chapter. I'm a data freak, so I appreciated whenever Sheninger cited actual studies with facts and figures. For example, "the amount of time Americans spend online increased dramatically over the first decade of the twenty-first century, from 2.7 hours per week in 2000 to almost 2.6 hours per day in 2010." That's impressive and telling. It's not something we educators can ignore.

At the same time, I can't help but ask, by Americans do you mean white middle class Americans? What about our historically underserved populations? What about immigrants and refugees? I'm hoping Sheninger would argue that this is why schools need to get up to speed to help ALL learners.

I was initially shocked to read that "the average U.S. household owns five devices connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi, wired, or cellular networks." I then counted my own family of five's and came up with ten, yes, ten devices. Wow.

My cheers:
1. "Some educational leaders have begun to recognize that the current structure and function of institutions of learning are not in tune with with the real world that is continuously advancing beyond the walls of schools."
2. "Many computer suppliers have instituted lease programs, which make their products even more attractive in these difficult economic times." Right on!
3. Didn't know document cameras could record both video and sound. Very cool!
4. Loved exploring Minecraft!

1. "It is time to transform schools into vibrant learning communities that are connected and allow access to numerous social media tools that can unleash the creativity of our learners. This will increase engagement and, ultimately achievement." I believe in the engagement piece if done correctly, but would love to see the data that justifies the achievement claim.
2. On page 7, Sheninger cites a Haystead and Marzano study (actually 85 studies of 50 schools) from 2009 that claims Interactive White Boards are key to high percentile gains in achievement. There are several parallel factors included (teacher experience, IWB use, and teacher confidence), so I would love to see what kind of schools these were as well as how Haystead and Marzano weighted each factor for Sheninger to make his claim.
3. Page 9, under 3-D Content, Sheninger doesn't share the size of the sample studied.
4. Who has time for Minecraft?! Geez!

Questions that pestering me:
1. Is Sheninger's book an indictment of CCSS, today's traditional school structure, or both?
2. We're teaching the teachers of tomorrow, so today's digital natives will be tomorrow's teachers. Will they adopt a different approach naturally? Is it up to teacher prep programs?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

EdTech Future Ready Summit

Can't remember a day when I've felt as inspired to launch a new adventure. Having just shifted into the Assistant Director role in my department and loving every minute of it as I learn so many new things, I'm already thinking of what new major adventure I can pursue that gets me out of my routine suburban American life. This course is timely that we have several new tech initiatives in our department and staff are struggling to keep up. I am excited to take some relevant ideas and put them into immediate action.
I met a teacher who taught in Egypt, Zimbabwe, and Malaysia with her husband. I couldn't get a word in edgewise, however, I was fascinated by her stories as I share some of her experiences and desire to recapture that sense of disorientation and wonder in an unfamiliar cultural and linguistic environment. Also discovered that Todd and his wife have also taught abroad. Meeting people who have that fever to immerse themselves in something foreign is so contagious for me.

Listened to David Jakes' keynote this morning. Below are my takeaways.

Change the language: ideation, innovation
Develop a new lens and mindset
Take strategic risks

Session 1: Juan De Luca - Presentations that Speak
Learned about some applications that can add variety and interest to presentations. While the focus was on student presentations, I got some ideas about how to improve my own presentations to teachers and administrators. Downloaded thinglink and movenote.

Session 2: Nichole Carter - Spice Up Your PD
Wow. Information is leaking out my ears. The content of this summit, and particularly this session, is over my head, but I can see the surface of the water from here given my very basic experience and knowledge of technology. My interest is piqued and I love seeing the connections between technology and learning. So powerful.
Takeaways: Flipped PD, EdCamp, Learning Management System (LMS), use Google Docs to deliver PD, Schoology, digital citizenship

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Reflection on the day

Transformation. Learning to Change. Changing to Learn. Skeptics and Utopians. Dreams. Disenthrall. Revolution. 

These are the impressions I am leaving with today as they relate to our educational system as a whole and to the role of instructional technology in schools. As an educational leader, it is incumbent upon me to understand the power of technology in today's world and our responsibility to revolutionize how our children are being prepared for life and work. For decades, we have been saying that the industrial model is irrelevant and is, in fact, damaging our children's potential to find purpose and meaning.

I appreciate Sir Ken Robinson's call to revolutionize our system into an agricultural model where we create the conditions for optimal growth of our children's minds and hearts.
The meaning of the German word, kindergarten, is literally "children's garden" or a garden of children. This parallels Robinson's metaphor and reminds us of the root of formal learning. We need to give children the space to explore their interests and learn to build relationships with peers and adults.

In my work supporting children with disabilities, I need to find ways to expand not only children's access to their education, but also ways to tap into their abilities, interests, and learning styles. They have just as much to aspire to as "typically developing" children.

I am enjoying that this is not just a technical skills class, although learning how to launch and maintain a blog is very practical. The critical thinking piece is important and integral to my development as a leader.

Skeptics vs. Utopians

Zucker eased my worries about where we were (I was) in terms of viewing my district's status on educational technology. I thought he presented a balanced perspective of current (2008?) writings on the topic. The truth and value lie somewhere in between Stoll and the utopians. Technology allows for learning opportunities not possible before, but it is not the savior of education.